• Open Access

Anti-aging activity of the Ink4/Arf locus


Manuel Serrano, Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), 3 Melchor Fernandez Almagro street, Madrid E-28029, Spain. Tel.: +34 91 732 8000; fax: +34 91 732 8028; e-mail: mserrano@cnio.es


The proteins encoded by the Ink4/Arf locus, p16Ink4a, p19Arf and p15Ink4b are major tumour suppressors that oppose aberrant mitogenic signals. The expression levels of the locus are progressively increased during aging and genome-wide association studies have linked the locus to a number of aging-associated diseases and frailty in humans. However, direct measurement of the global impact of the Ink4/Arf locus on organismal aging and longevity was lacking. In this work, we have examined the fertility, cancer susceptibility, aging and longevity of mice genetically modified to carry one (Ink4/Arf-tg) or two (Ink4/Arf-tg/tg) intact additional copies of the locus. First, increased gene dosage of Ink4/Arf impairs the production of male germ cells, and in the case of Ink4/Arf-tg/tg mice results in a Sertoli cell-only-like syndrome and a complete absence of sperm. Regarding cancer, there is a lower incidence of aging-associated cancer proportional to the Ink4/Arf gene dosage. Interestingly, increased Ink4/Arf gene dosage resulted in lower scores in aging markers and in extended median longevity. The increased survival was also observed in cancer-free mice indicating that cancer protection and delayed aging are separable activities of the Ink4/Arf locus. In contrast to these results, mice carrying one or two additional copies of the p53 gene (p53-tg and p53-tg/tg) had a normal longevity despite their increased cancer protection. We conclude that the Ink4/Arf locus has a global anti-aging effect, probably by favouring quiescence and preventing unnecessary proliferation.